Back-transformation of high-pressure minerals in shocked chondrites: low-pressure mineral evidence for strong shock

Jinping Hu, Thomas G. Sharp

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Accepted Manuscript, Available online 18 July 2017


“Post-shock annealing of meteorites can destroy their shock-induced features, particularly high-pressure minerals, and complicate the estimation of impact pressure-temperature conditions. However, distinguishing post-shock annealing features from thermal metamorphism effects can be practically difficult. Here we report results from Mbale, a highly shocked L chondrite, to investigate the mechanisms, kinetics and identification criteria for post-shock annealing of high-pressure signatures. Olivine fragments within shock-melt veins in Mbale occur as chemically heterogeneous nanocrystalline aggregates that contain trace wadsleyite and ringwoodite. Their strong variation in fayalite content provides evidence of iron partitioning during transformation of olivine to wadsleyite, followed by back-transformation to olivine after decompression. Experimental studies of transformation kinetics show that wadsleyite transforms to olivine in seconds at temperatures above ∼1200 K and in hours at temperatures between 900 and 1200 K. Thermal models of shock-melt cooling show that shock veins in Mbale cooled to 1200 K in 1 s. The shock pulse must have been shorter than ∼1 s to provide the high temperature conditions for post-shock back-transformation of wadsleyite. Many highly shocked L chondrites, which have abundant high-pressure minerals, must have experienced relatively long shock durations combined with rapid cooling of shock-melt regions to preserve high-pressure phases. The most highly shocked samples, such as impact melt breccias, lack high-pressure phases because of post-shock back-transformations.”